The Tea Party’s Job-Killing Budget Bill

Loss of 1 Million Jobs Would Trigger the Second Republican Recession in Just Three Years – Why Does the Tea Party Want America to Fail?

The House tea party caucus put its dominance over Speaker John Boehner on display last week when it pushed him and his hapless leadership team to the edge of the political ledge on the issue of budget cuts.

Let them eat cakeHere’s the Economic Policy Institute’s analysis on Friday of the ramifications of the tea party cuts were they to be enacted:

After the House Appropriations Committee detailed $74 billion in cuts last Wednesday, a number of conservative members demanded $26 billion in additional cuts to make good on the “Pledge to America,” bringing the total level of cuts relative to President Obama’s FY 2011 budget request to $100 billion. A full $100 billion cut to discretionary spending would likely result in job losses on the order of 994,000, using OMB’s GDP projections (CBO’s projections are based on current law) and assuming a fiscal multiplier of 1.5.

The new GOP budget proposes cutting non-security discretionary spending by $81 billion relative to the president’s $478 billion request for 2011. Non-security discretionary cuts of this magnitude would likely result in job losses of just over 800,000. (2/15/2011)

But over the weekend, looking at the bill as passed, the Associated Press reported that it called for $60 billion in cuts, which, if so, would represent a significant defeat for the tea party caucus. Even at that level, the cuts will likely produce direct job losses of 650,000 in government layoffs, which would likely trigger to another 325,000 layoffs, mostly in the retail and service sectors — nearly 1 million jobs altogether — according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress.

While the number of jobs killed by the tea party’s cuts is uncertain, on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen issued a warning about the cuts:

“The bipartisan commission on fiscal responsibility specifically warned against deep, immediate cuts in the year 2011. Why? Because it would hurt a fragile economy and put people out of work,” he told CBS’ Bob Schieffer. “In fact, there are estimates that about 800,000 Americans would lose their jobs if you do this in a reckless manner.”

Whatever the job loss is — whether it’s 1 million, 800,000 or 650,000 — the tea party’s 180-degree flipflop on jobs is remarkable. Just a few months ago, they won the House by convincing swing voters that their number-one issue would be “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” Boehner went around the country campaigning for them, lamenting, “Mr. President, where are the jobs?!”

But all of that was forgotten last week as details about the tea party budget cuts emerged. Not only will their bill kill hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs, it offers nothing that addresses the need for “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

But this should not be a surprise. After all, while the tea party candidates were bellowing about “Jobs, jobs, jobs” last year, neither they nor Boehner and his team offered any workable ideas for resolving the unemployment crisis.

And yet by yammering on about repealing “Obamacare” and hammering away on jobs, they somehow convinced swing voters to give them control of the House.

What were swing voters thinking?

Since November, it has become an accepted fact in the establishment media that the tea party has taken over Congress. In reality, this conservative faction, which, until two years ago was simply known as “Bush’s base,” comprises paltry minorities both in the population at large — just 20 percent of Americans self-identify as tea partyists — and in Congress, where about 11 percent of the 535 members of both bodies have joined the Tea Party Caucus — 52 in the House and four in the Senate.

In the six weeks since they took the House, Boehner and the tea party members have not proposed, much less drafted or debated, a single piece of legislation that would create jobs. Instead, they have pushed their true agenda: ending abortion rights, undoing the Democrats’ legislative successes, eliminating Republican pet peeve projects like NPR and PBS and de-funding government programs that their corporate masters don’t like — including food safety inspections, environmental protections, alternative energy research and financial regulations that might prevent another economic meltdown.

Jobs, schmobs, Boehner said, as noted, last week. If the unemployment rolls swell because Republicans force the layoff 200,000 federal workers, “so be it,” he said. Or, to paraphrase, “Let them eat cake.”

Later in the week, tea party Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, a half-wit who somehow made it through medical school and who chaired the amusingly named House Republican Study Committee in the last Congress, trumped the speaker’s cavalier attitude about killing jobs in a statement to the Associated Press. Laid off government employees, said Price, “found their way into public jobs. They can find their way into private jobs.”

In other words, these freeloaders should get “real” jobs — never mind the fact that there are 13.9 million unemployed Americans in line ahead of them.

And consequences be damned. If abruptly putting hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work and on the road to financial ruin triggers a cascade of failures among the small businesses with whom these workers spent their paychecks, well, as the speaker said, so be it.

Just last July, Price was quoted in the right-wing propaganda outlet Human Events as saying, “Republicans are determined to help more Americans get back to work and develop policies that will support a healthy environment for small businesses.”

But, hey, that was six long months ago. Now the GOP agenda, as evidenced by their job-killing budget bill, is to put small businesses under.

What is at stake here is nothing less than the economic recovery. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in January was 9 percent, with 13.9 million people unemployed, which represents a decrease of 600,000 people on the jobless rolls.

Obviously, if the GOP’s job-killing $60 billion in cuts were to become law, the loss of an additional 1 million jobs would erase recent gains — and then some. It’s hard to see how a fragile recovery could endure that sort of shock.

It is tempting to think that they want America to fail. But as Dana Milbank at the Washington Post put it, “[In] the short run, the cuts Boehner and his caucus propose would cause a shock to the economy that would slow, if not reverse, the recovery. And … the dirty truth is that a stall in the recovery would bring political benefits to the Republicans in the 2012 elections. It is in their political interests for unemployment to remain higher for the next two years. ‘So be it’ is callous but rational.”

That’s where we are. Just two years after Republican ineptitude and malfeasance caused the biggest financial collapse in recent history, and just two months after Boehner and his team gave their bill to repeal “Obamacare” the patently false and too-cute-by-half title, “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” they have passed a budget bill that, unlike the Affordable Care Act, really would kill hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

Just six weeks after swing voters put them back in power, Republicans are once again driving the nation to the brink of financial ruin — to the second Republican recession in just three years.

Is this really what you had in mind, swing voters?

10 Comments

  • Nikolai
    February 21, 2011 - 7:18 am | Permalink

    How about slashing the defense budget by ONE SEVENTH? That would be 100 BILLION dollars! Come to think of it, how about slashing the defense budget by $200 billion, and using 100 billion of it where it is really needed, such as education, infrastructure, medical care for the poor, etc, etc!

  • lmwilker
    February 21, 2011 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    In relation to your sidebar it should be noted that not one penny of Federal Funding goes toward abortion services at Planned Parenthood. Cutting off funding from Planned Parenthood cuts off funding for contraceptives, treatment and prevention of STDs and cancer screening programs for people who could not otherwise afford such things.

  • josemanolo
    February 21, 2011 - 12:54 pm | Permalink

    swing voters got snookered again. what’s new.

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  • February 21, 2011 - 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Let’s not forget that the Republicans had the help of the DINOs, including Obama. If Obama would have prosecuted the war criminals, prosecuted the Wall Street criminals, bailed out Main Street, double or tripled fiscal stimulus, ended tax breaks for the rich, forced the big banks to lend the two trillion dollars they are sitting on, put a stop to the foreclosure mills, and ended the two illegal wars like he promised, the Democrats would still control the House.

    Please don’t tell me the Republicans are the party of NO and their minority status is really a majority. The Democrats could have very easily ended the filibuster in the Senate.

  • Vic Anderson
    February 21, 2011 - 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Why do they Hate US?

  • Glenda Townsend
    February 21, 2011 - 9:06 pm | Permalink

    You can’t blame President Obama for everything. The House, the Senate, and the Supreme court are complicit. Don’t forget that corporations can are now considered persons and that they control most elections via massive donations. Also, some people are making careers out of opposing anything Obama says or does ignoring the good. Obamacare? Can you believe that people would rather have no insurance for themselves and their children just because Obama fought for it? The solution: The party of NO must go!

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